What are Hydrolats?
A true aromatherapy hydolat (or aromatherapy hydrosol) is the water that is collected when plants are steam distilled. Here's the procedure: The steam is passed through the plant material where it collects many of the plant's volatile aromatic compounds. Some of these compounds dissolve in water (hydrophylic compounds), and some don't. The steam then passes through a condenser (where it is cooled), and turns back into a water-oily mix. The water contains the water-loving compounds, and the oil contains the other materials. These quickly separate out into the essential oil (which nearly always floats on the surface), and can be drawn off, and a water product. This is the hydrolat.
Sometimes you will find hydrolats in shops and chemists that have had preservatives added or alcohol. Be aware of this, because they may not be as suitable for therapeutic use.
Hydrolats (also referred to as flower waters, and hydrosols) have a delicate nature and a light aroma. They are ideal for situations that require gentle aromatic care, especially for children, the elderly, the highly sensitive, and those who are very debilitated by illness. They do not require dilution and can be applied directly to the skin.
Here are some of their most popular uses and some that you may not have encountered before.
- Hydrate and moisturise your skin
- Soothe sunburn
- Cool the effects of hot flushes
- Refreshing facial toners for all skin types
- Perfect as a body mist
- Set make-up
- Add to facial masks
- Freshen linens
- Mist house plants
- Make soothing eye pads
- Make "wet wipes" for hands, faces and baby's bottoms (simply mist a tissue)
- Flavour natural yoghurt with rose water